72% of all distance travelled on trips of over 50 miles in 2018 in Britain were made by car (43 billion passenger miles); 23% (14 billion passenger miles) were made by rail and only 5% (3 billion passenger miles) were made by express coach. If coaches could attract 30% of current car long-distance travel it would increase coach demand by a factor of five and relieve pressure on the road network.
Use of coaches would also dramatically improve road-space utilisation. Image 1 (below) shows a 4-lane carriageway carrying 20,000 people per hour in private cars at an average speed of 16mph. To ensure timely arrival for 95% of the time, motorists must add 66% additional journey time.1
If only 1 in 5 cars are replaced with coaches (image 2 below) this same carriageway can carry 30,000 people per hour at an average speed of 54mph.2 Journey times are more reliable for everyone since a blocked lane will result in fewer delays due to the lower traffic density.
When used exclusively for coaches (Image 3 below) the same carriageway can carry 100,000 people per hour at an average speed of 52mph. In cars, this number of people would need at least 20 lanes!
1 Based on 1.5 people per hour and a minimum headway between vehicles of between 1 and 2.5 seconds. Travel time reliability sourced from Highways England.
2 Based on an average coach occupancy of 20 people per vehicle.